How Much Does the UK Dept. of Health Spend on ME?

MP Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West) had asked the UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care how much it plans to allocate to biomedical research for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in the current financial year? 

In quotations below is the response from the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, Caroline Dinenage. Her response only references past spending, and does not indicate whether or not the spending is for biomedical research. Editor’s notes are in Italics. 

Her answer is confusing but the take-away appears that an annual £507, 842 pounds is being spent on ME research. However, that figure includes contributions from charities and £286,197 of that funding is most likely being spent on psycho-social research – not biomedical research. In other words, it’s not clear that any money is being spent on biomedical research by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Dinenage’s response about funding for ME:

“In the period in question, the major National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funding for biomedical research was through its Biomedical Research Centres and Units. These support research funded by the NIHR itself and also research funded by other public, charity and industry research funders. The level of funding for biomedical research into chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) for each financial year can be found in the table below. The funding for this research came from a combination of funders.”

The first table includes funding from charities so it’s not clear if anything came from the NIHR or MRC.

Financial Year

£

2014-15

280,442

2015-16

295,626

2016-17

130,958

“The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) provides the infrastructure that allows high-quality clinical research funded by charities, research funders and life-sciences industry to be undertaken throughout the National Health Service. The level of funding for biomedical research into CFS/ME for each financial year can be found in the table below. The funding for this research came from a combination of the NIHR, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and medical research charities. Expenditure from the CRN coordinating centre itself is also outlined below:”

The second table simply says that NIHR spends a bit of money co-ordinating the money spent by others on research.  

Financial Year

CRN funding for research, £

Coordinating expenditure, £

2014-15

134,769

17,485

2015-16

125,176

17,796

2016-17

82,866

7,821

“The MRC spend on research directly relating to CFS/ME can be found in the following table. Research into CFS/ME is a continuing priority for the MRC.”

The third table is, mostly likely, psycho-social research funded by the MRC. 

Financial Year

£

2014-15

652,044

2015-16

287,234

2016-17

286,197

“The NIHR and the MRC welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including biomedical research into CFS/ME. It is not usual practice to ring-fence funds for particular topics or conditions. Applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and health and care services, value for money and scientific quality. On this basis, it is not possible to say how much funding is planned in the current financial year.

The NIHR recognises that CFS/ME is a debilitating condition and is speaking with the United Kingdom CFS/ME Research Collaborative and patient representatives about how best we can support a joined up approach to high quality research into this complex disorder.”

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